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ASN Wikibase Occurrence # 191359
Last updated: 25 October 2020
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Time:19:30 app
Type:Silhouette image of generic FFLY model; specific model in this crash may look slightly different
Fairey Firefly T.7
Owner/operator:796 Sqn FAA RN
Registration: WM864
C/n / msn: F8919
Fatalities:Fatalities: 1 / Occupants: 3
Other fatalities:0
Aircraft damage: Aircraft missing
Location:45 miles NW of Tresco, Scilly Isles, off Cornwall -   United Kingdom
Phase: En route
Departure airport:RNAS Culdrose (HMS Seahawk), Lizard Peninsula, Cornwall (EGDR)
Destination airport:RNAS Culdrose (HMS Seahawk), Lizard Peninsula, Cornwall (EGDR)
Fairey Firefly T,7, WM864 ('373-CU') 796 Squadron FAA RN: Written off (destroyed) 24/1/55 when aircraft crashed into the sea and sank 45 miles NW of Tresco, Scilly Isles, off Cornwall, at approximate co ordinates 50'16"North, 6'5"West. Pilot, Commissioned Pilot David George Baxter, not found.

Two crew members found by Shackleton aircraft from RAF St Eval at around 22:00 hrs. The Shackleton guided the RMS Scottish Eagle to the scene where the survivors were picked up. One, Ivor Lawrence Beale was awarded the Stanhope Medal for Gallantry, but, sadly, died in another crash about a year later. (Specifically, the crash of Skyraider WT984 on 24/11/56 which crashed into the Mediterranean Sea off HMS Eagle).

Remaining crew member, Richard Shepherd, died in 2013. According to his obituary in the Goldfish Club Spring 2013 newsletter (see link #6):

"RICHARD W M SHEPHERD lived in Great Glen, Leicester and died on 11 March 2013. Richard had been our Secretary since 2005. His funeral was at St Cuthbert's Parish Church, Great Glen on Thursday 21 March 2013 and was attended by your Chairman, Newsletter Editor and Treasurer. A donation was made to the Stroke Association on behalf of all Goldfish Club members.

Richard was the observer on a Firefly 7 based at RNAS Culdrose (HMS Seahawk). On the 24 January 1955 while engaged on a NATO exercise with the Home Fleet the aircraft flew into the sea in poor visibility 45 NM NW of the Scilly Isles. Unfortunately the pilot was lost in the accident but Richard and the TAG" (Telegraphist/Air Gunner) "shared a one-man dinghy for 4 hours until located by an RAF SAR Shackleton from RAF St Eval.

The Shackleton homed on the SS Scottish Eagle which picked them up and landed them at Falmouth."

Note several sources list the date of this incident was 20/1/55. The date was definitely 24/1/55, according to an eyewitness report (see link #4): "May be listed as 20th, but, believe me, it was the 24th. I was in the nose of the Shack and the entry on my Log Book is 24th."

The Goldfish Club (founded in 1942) is a worldwide association of people who have escaped an aircraft by parachuting into the water, or whose aircraft crashed in the water, and whose lives were saved by a life jacket, inflatable dinghy, or similar device. The Goldfish Club badge shows a white-winged goldfish flying over two symbolic blue waves. The main aim of the club is 'to keep alive the spirit of comradeship arising from the mutual experience of members surviving, "coming down in the drink"


1. Various sources including the Goldfish Club and my own Flying Log Book.
2. Acts of Gallantry - Volume 3, Volume 3 pp.5 & 6 By W.H. Fevyer, Craig P. Barclay
7. .

Revision history:

16-Nov-2016 06:56 jaycee Added
25-Apr-2020 00:22 Dr. John Smith Updated [Operator, Other fatalities, Location, Departure airport, Source]
25-Apr-2020 09:15 Allach Updated [Operator, Operator]
08-May-2020 17:35 Dr. John Smith Updated [Aircraft type, Operator, Destination airport, Source, Narrative]
08-May-2020 19:50 Allach Updated [Operator, Operator]
16-Jun-2020 23:28 Dr. John Smith Updated [Aircraft type, Registration, Cn, Location, Source, Narrative]
16-Jun-2020 23:32 Dr. John Smith Updated [Narrative]
16-Jun-2020 23:32 Dr. John Smith Updated [Aircraft type]
16-Jun-2020 23:33 Dr. John Smith Updated [Narrative]
16-Jun-2020 23:36 Dr. John Smith Updated [Narrative]
20-Jun-2020 12:26 Dr. John Smith Updated [Narrative]
01-Sep-2020 21:48 Dr. John Smith Updated [Departure airport, Destination airport, Source, Narrative]

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